For Hermitage Club, closing on loan 'imminent'

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DEERFIELD VALLEY — The Hermitage Club claims to be making "substantial progress" in a refinancing effort.

"We do believe at this point that a closing is imminent," Hermitage President Harper Sibley wrote Tuesday in a letter to members. "We don't think it is a question of whether it closes or not but it is more of a question that it closes as a $30 million or $25 million loan based on the appraisal which needs to support a 50 percent loan to value. As long as we're in this range it works within our model and we do feel confident that the appraisal will be in the valuation range of $50 to $60 million."

Sibley has previously mentioned the possibility of a $30 million loan to help get the members-only ski resort at Haystack Mountain up and running again this winter. He recently told members a holiday opening in December no longer looked likely. The resort is part of a foreclosure complaint involving several other Hermitage Real Estate Inn Holding Company properties and brought on by mortgage holder Berkshire Bank in February.

Sibley said inspections for 16 buildings and environment assessments were complete. Survey work is "90 percent complete with final reports on schedule for delivery" on Oct 31, he wrote.

"Title insurance commitment has been made — details are being worked through with lender's counsel," he said. "The loan documents are received and have been reviewed."

Sibley said negotiations have begun with creditors and lien holders. He also mentioned the start of an agreement with "the tax authority."

The Vermont Department of Taxes has filed a lawsuit against Hermitage founder Jim Barnes, claiming the state is owed more than $1 million in taxes. The department shut down several Hermitage establishments in March for not paying taxes.

"The department can only disclose whether or not a business is in good standing," said Kate Strousse, executive assistant of the tax department. "At this time, the Hermitage Club is not in good standing and is not authorized to conduct transactions."

Sibley anticipates a closing date to come between Nov. 19 and 26.

"The last important item needed is the completion of the appraisal, which is expected by Nov. 16," said Sibley. "We are inching our way toward the finish line."

Reach staff writer Chris Mays at cmays@reformer.com, at @CMaysBR on Twitter and 802-254-2311, ext. 273.


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